Becoming Reconcilers

2 comments Written on March 1st, 2017     
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Whole Gospel: Becoming Reconcilers

Holistic mission has been our legacy. Although the Covenant Church did not completely escape the intense battles around the evangelism-versus-social concern debacle of the twentieth century, we have for the most part affirmed both word and deed in our gospel witness. But in order to be truly holistic in today’s fragmented, war-torn world, I’m convinced that we have to think and act in terms of the ministry of reconciliation. Our divided world has compelled us to redefine holistic mission not so much as putting evangelism and justice back together (though we should always keep them together), but as participating with God in the healing of the nations.

Embracing such a theology of mission requires continually rethinking our evangelistic methods. There is no room for aggressive tactics that add fuel to the fire of religious wars. Our call is to be reconciler-evangelists, to bear witness to Jesus uncompromisingly but to do so in a way that reflects love across difference. Part of that means being open to forms and expressions of the faith that are unfamiliar to us. For example, do those who respond to Christ in a Muslim culture really need to erect a church building that looks like the one we would build in Middletown, USA? Do those who emerge as leaders always need to be called pastors? And so on.

Furthermore, a holistic theology of mission requires strengthening the conviction that ministry to, among, and with the poor and oppressed is truly gospel work and not peripheral or preparatory to it. Loving mercy/doing justice is the gospel. The church needs all of the spiritual gifts of preaching/teaching, service, mercy, hospitality, and administration to be in full operation.

Holistic mission defined in terms of reconciliation today affirms creative evangelism and an uncompromising commitment to compassion and justice. But it also requires the specific ministry of reconciliation. Last year, the moderator of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Kenya (ECCK), pastor John Kiruga, was shot and killed by extremists. The irony (and the tragedy) of this incident was that he was killed as he was headed home to Nairobi after conducting a peace seminar in a volatile area north of the capital. Committed to peacemaking between warring tribes, Kiruga made the ministry of reconciliation an integral part of the ECCK. Though he paid the ultimate price, he knew the centrality of reconciliation is to be truly engaged in holistic mission. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9)

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2 comments “Becoming Reconcilers”

Well said Al.  Amen!

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I like the term “reconciler-evangelists”- thank you, Al!  

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